Despite continuing diagnoses of COVID-19 in the province, B.C. Ferries says it can’t allow people to self-isolate in vehicles on the lower decks of vessels.
Mark Collins, B.C. Ferries’ president and CEO, said customers have inquired about staying in vehicles in light of the coronavirus, and while it is allowable on open decks of vessels, it’s prohibited on enclosed vehicle decks.
“We have been in contact with Transport Canada to raise this issue,” Collins said in a press release. “Passengers situated on an open vehicle deck can remain in their vehicles however, for safety reasons, Transport Canada regulations do not permit passengers to remain in their vehicles on an enclosed vehicle deck.
“On larger vessels that have both an upper and lower vehicle deck, customers are able to remain in their vehicles on the upper vehicle deck only.”
During a press conference Friday, B.C. Premier John Horgan acknowledged that B.C. Ferries had asked for “lenience” on the regulations and while that has not yet been granted, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would take up the issue with Transport Canada.
— Tom Fletcher (@tomfletcherbc) March 13, 2020
In terms of steps B.C. Ferries is taking to mitigate risk from coronavirus, Collins said staff are increasing sanitizing efforts.
“When we learned of the outbreak, we took proactive measures to mitigate the spread of illness on our ferries and at our terminals,” Collins said in the release. “Crews have been taking, and will continue to take, extra measures to clean and disinfect all touch points. Touch point cleaning focuses on common areas and locations that are touched frequently by people throughout the day.
“They include hard surfaces such as tables, handrails, payment PIN pads, door handles, and elevator buttons. We have also stepped up our cleaning protocols in all washroom facilities.”
Collins said the risk of COVID-19 spreading in B.C. is still low, but B.C. Ferries will continue to monitor information from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Collins also advised passengers continue to wash hands with soap and warm water and to cough or sneeze into sleeves, as opposed to hands.
– With files from Tom Fletcher